Simple yet satisfying, these hearty French Bread Rolls make a perfect accompaniment to any meal.
We’ve been making lots of soup lately, which goes hand in hand with fresh dinner rolls.
These hearty French Bread rolls have a chewier texture than the buttery, light-as-air dinner rolls that I typically bake, which makes them perfect for dipping in warm, comforting soup.
The idea for these simple yet enticing rolls came about after Tessa and I baked French bread-style bread bowls for serving some potato soup that we made.
I love eating soup in bread bowls, but Tessa felt disturbed by the waste; we rarely have room to eat an entire bread bowl, and, once it’s been filled with soup, you can’t really save the bread for later.
This was all the prompting I needed to come up with a recipe variant that produces a dozen petite dinner rolls with the same satisfying flavor and texture.
This yeasted dough includes only five ingredients — water, yeast, salt, sugar, and flour — but it develops incredible flavor over a longish rising time.
I’ve added an egg wash for shine, but if you prefer a firmer crust, leave it off, and spray the rolls with cool water before baking instead.
French Bread Roll Serving Suggestions
While I initially made these rolls to serve with soup, they taste incredible alongside any meal.
Spaghetti and Meatballs? Check. Mini Quiche? Check. Pear Risotto? Check.
At my house, we tend to snack on these little rolls, too.
There’s something so gratifying about ripping one in half and slathering it with butter. Or jam. Or brie.
Yeah, I’ve tried them with pretty much anything you can spread on bread, and I haven’t yet been disappointed.
Tessa has suggested making little soup appetizers in these rolls. I love the way she thinks!
French Bread Rolls
- 1 cup warm water (105º to 115º F)
- 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 2 to 2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- cornmeal for sprinkling
- 1 egg
- 2 teaspoons water
- 1 pinch kosher salt
- Add the water to the bowl of a standing mixer. Sprinkle the yeast and sugar over the surface of the water. Stir until combined. Let stand at room temperature until foamy, about 5 to 10 minutes.
- Using a large wooden spoon, mix in 1 cup of the flour along with the kosher salt. Add more flour a couple of tablespoons at a time until a thick, shaggy dough that clears the sides of the bowl forms. Let the mixture rest for 20 minutes before continuing.
- Using the mixer's dough hook, knead until the dough is smooth and slightly tacky, about 3 minutes. After kneading, if the dough still feels really sticky, knead in a bit more flour.
- Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl. Turn once to coat the top and cover the bowl with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in a cool area until tripled in bulk, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. If you have time, punch down the dough and let it rise again for about an hour.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and sprinkle it with cornmeal.
- Turn out the dough on a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into 12 equal portions.
- Using just enough flour to prevent sticking, shape the pieces into tight round balls. Transfer them to the prepared baking sheet, spacing them at least 2 inches apart.
- Cover the shaped rolls loosely with lightly greased plastic wrap. Let them rise until puffy and doubled, about 30 to 40 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 400° F.
- Whisk together egg, water, and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Right before baking, brush the entire surface of each roll with the egg wash. Using a sharp knife or lame, make a 1/4-inch deep slash across the top of each roll.
- Bake until the rolls turn golden brown and sound hollow when tapped, about 20 minutes. Serve immediately or transfer the the rolls to a rack to cool.
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